Friday, May 15, 2009

A Fortnight On: Danny Gans' Death

I've been traveling and superbusy with new assignments and loathe to get back into the Danny Gans story because some gay-obsessed lunatics -- well, he refers to himself in the plural, anyhow -- believes anything said about the matter at this stage is thanks to his "vigilance." I've since realized that Internet nutjobs will say and do what they wish regardless of accuracy, propriety or basic common sense and never back down even in the face of contrary evidence or reasoning. Thus, the best answer is to ignore them, remove their attempts at gaining traffic from this blog and do my own thing.

So, two weeks since Danny Gans' death, where are we? Pretty much where we expected to be. The autopsy was inconclusive, as reported right here within 12 hours of his death and yet strangely retread as a breathless "exclusive" 10 days later by RadarOnline, a site that shares corporate parentage with the National Enquirer. It is telling that when the vermin Perez Hilton reposted this phony "exclusive," he garnered just 14 comments -- typically a PH post gets many dozens if not hundreds -- and five of them wondered who Gans was. Gives you some idea what the actual public appetite for this topic is.

(P.S. The best part of this "exclusive" was the claim that the intel came from a "family member." This is an obvious lie. Why would a reporter need to get to a family member -- which nobody has been able to do thus far anyway -- for information that an on-the-record call to the coroner or a simple read of first-day stories would provide? And if they did get to a family member, wouldn't there be some comment about how they're coping, some expression of anguish, something? The only logical conclusion is that the stringer made the sourcing up to excite editors who don't care about accuracy or they wouldn't be in the jobs they're in.)

Anyhow, toxicology reports should be done within the next couple of weeks. As I wrote the day Gans died, the fact that the coroner couldn't crack him open and see a heart attack or aneurysm would imply there's some important information to come in the bloodwork.

Short of those tests being completed, there's not a lot for legit reporters to do. Since none of us in the news biz are likely to break into the morgue to grab a sample and do the tests ourselves, the best thing to do is to wait. Tox results for Heath Ledger took 15 days, for Anna Nicole Smith took more than 7 weeks. That's a wide window.

There's been rumor, of course. Gans' suspected steriod use has been out there for years, so that's come up again. And the R-J's Mike Weatherford chatted up a golfing buddy who said Danny was a bit down recently. That's curious, but don't we all feel low sometimes? Maybe the market was down that day? Or his kid got bad grades? The car got a flat?

The oddest bit has been the question of what was known about Gans' possible health troubles before his death. His longtime manager Chip Lightman first told me for AFP that Gans was healthy as an ox and later told Norm Clarke that he had a history of high blood pressure. All the more reason to sit tight for the coroner's results, right? I do think Lightman has said some things since Danny's death designed to frame the entertainer's image and legacy; that's understandable given that's been his job for 18 years. It's a hard habit to break, but some inconsistencies are more jarring than others.

Dave McKee from the Stiffs & Georges blog ruminated about a "cone of silence" surrounding Gans' death within the media. Because I respect McKee, I wrote him a note expressing my view:

There is no cone of silence surrounding Danny Gans' death. What there is is responsible and sensitive journalism which, evidently, you can't even recognize because it hardly exists anywhere anymore. Danny Gans died in his bed. The coroner said the autopsy was inconclusive. They're doing the testing to figure out what's what. What would you like the media to do in the meantime? Make shit up? Take third- and fourth-hand rumors and draw conclusions about how he died? Harass his widow and grieving kids? Why? Because that's how the LA or NY or London media would do it?

There is a reason why Danny's death is not the feeding frenzy of a Anna Nicole Smith or Elvis Presley or Heath Ledger and it is this: Danny Gans did not self-destruct in public and use that self-destruction as a form of self-promotion. He also didn't have a wide circle of confidants because he spent little time away from his family. If he died from some sort of drug overdose, the toxicology reports will surely say so. And if something else happened related to steroid use, that, too, should emerge in the results. If, after those tests, there's still no clear answer, then anyone's guess is as good as yours or mine. But it's not waiting for spoonfed scoops to let the official investigators do their work. Well, unless you believe that the coroner's office is corrupt, too, and there's no reason to think that.

Of course, there are some who wish to believe that, too, but it's been proven they'll believe anything. Just look at some of the bizarro notions that have been tossed out there: Danny Gans was (a) actually killed in a DUI hit-and-run; (b) was having an affair with a local news personality who has tried to get Mayor Oscar Goodman and Wayne Newton and Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce (!?!) to help cover up Gans' actual cause of death or (c) committed suicide because Steve Wynn booked Whoopi and Beyonce.

Hmmm. Let's see. For the first two to be true, we would need to have a conspiracy that drew in the highest reaches of Metro police, the entire Wynn organization, a list of entertainers and politicians and journalists who don't even like one another. And the motivation would be what? Danny Gans was a successful and popular Vegas act, but he wasn't a popular figure in either the local press or, for certain, within his former employer MGM Mirage. Are we all being paid? By whom?

As for the idea that Gans was suicidally upset that Wynn booked other acts? That would be pretty weird considering how Wynn repeatedly said even before he signed Gans that he would need to fill the room with other acts. And many other acts performed in his room at the Mirage, too, on a regular basis.

I do hope that the tox results give us something concrete, although I predict that certain crazies out there won't believe it if it turns out to be something relatively benign or innocent. That's just how they roll, y'know.


Anonymous said...

You missed the theory that Gans was offed by Wynn because his grosses were low, and he wouldn't renegoiate his deal. I guess it was kinda like Pope John Paul in Godfather III.

Jeff in OKC

Jason in NH said...

Another intelligent, sensitive, well-thought out and graceful post. Thank you for your level-headedness and informative post.

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R-J Guy said...

dude, give up. he's over you. and now that he is, you get to go back to anonymity which must be KILLING you. nobody knows who you are and nobody cares.

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V.S. said...

Over 1000 words on this is Captain Queegish.

Anonymous said...

I never really understood why wishing for some one to "Rest in Peace" was meaningful. I do now and hope he does.